1 100 IEEE JOURNAL OF SELECTED TOPICS IN QUANTUM ELECTRONICS, VOL. 3, NO. 1, FEBRUARY 1997 Diode-Pumped Tunable Yb:YAG Miniature Lasers at Room Temperature: Modeling and Experiment Takunori Taira, Member, IEEE, Jiro Saikawa, Takao Kobayashi, Member, IEEE, and Robert L. Byer, Fellow, IEEE Abstract We present a simple design rule for diode-laserpumped quasi-three-level lasers by using the M 2 factor. The validity of this model was demonstrated by diode-pumped Yb:YAG laser experiments. The maximum output power of 1.33 W and optical slope efficiency of 63% were obtained in a 400-m Yb:YAGchip miniature laser. Using a 200-m Yb:YAG chip, a 70% optical slope efficiency was reached. In a coupled-cavity configuration, with a quartz birefringent tuning filter, 8.2 THz (29 nm) of tuning was obtained at room temperature. By changing to a calcite birefringent filter, single-axial-mode oscillation with an output power of 500 mw was observed. Index Terms Birefringent filter, coupled-cavity, diodepumped solid-state laser, M 2 factor, microchip crystal, quasi-three-level laser, single-mode oscillation, tunable laser, Yb:YAG. I. INTRODUCTION THERE has been considerable interest in the trivalent ytterbium-ion-doped solid-state laser because of its low thermal loading and its broad absorption band for In Ga As diode-laser pumping. The Yb ion s simple electronic structure prevents excited-state absorption, up-conversion, or concentration quenching. Moreover, YAG has excellent thermomechanical properties as a laser host. Recent literature attests to enormous potential for high power and high efficiency of Yb:YAG lasers , . The Yb:YAG laser has a relatively wide fluorescence bandwidth that is good for both a tunable laser ,  and a mode-locked laser . Several techniques , ,  have been used to demonstrate wide tuning and single-mode operation. Due to its simplicity and low-loss configuration, the coupled-cavity technique is one approach to obtain single-mode laser operation at room temperature. However, a poor frequency tunability of a Yb:YAG laser using a coupled-cavity pumped by a Ti:sapphire laser has been observed . This paper focuses on diode-laser pumping of a quasithree-level laser using the factor and a simple design guideline derived for the Yb:YAG laser. Room-temperature tunable-single-axial-mode oscillation was demonstrated using a coupled-cavity miniature laser with a 400- m Yb:YAG microchip. We obtained 1.33-W output power at 1.03 m with Manuscript received December 2, 1996; revised January 3, This work was supported by the Grant-in-Aid for Encouragement of Young Scientists (Project ), The Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture, Japan. T. Taira, J. Saikawa and T. Kobayashi are with the Faculty of Engineering, Fukui University, Fukui 910, Japan. R. L. Byer is with the Edward L. Ginzton Laboratory, Stanford University, Stanford, CA USA. Publisher Item Identifier S X(97) a 2.9-W absorbed pump power using intracavity birefringent filters. The coupled-cavity laser tuned over 8.2 THz (29 nm) with multimode oscillation. Single-mode-oscillation output power of 500-mW has been observed using a 1-mm-thick calcite birefringent filter. II. DESIGN METHODS The main disadvantage of Yb:YAG as compared with Nd:YAG is its reabsorption loss due to the significant population in the lower laser level at room temperature. This leads to a number of deleterious effects, including increased laser threshold and reduced slope efficiency. However, by increasing the pump intensity to overcome the lower laser absorption, highly efficient laser operation can be achieved , . The salient issue which must be addressed in the design of a practical Yb:YAG laser is how to realize the higher brightness pumping because the output beam from a diode laser is in a higher order transverse mode. The requirements of the light beam for efficient coupling to a laser-cavity mode can be described in various ways , , ; here, we analyze this problem using a beam-quality description . An arbitrary diode-laser beam used for an end-pumped laser is considered. Using an factor, the propagation of a higher order transverse-mode beam from a high-power diode laser can be described as a Gaussian beam , . The spot size as a function of the distance from the beam waist expands as a hyperbola, which has the form where is the beam waist, is the pumping wavelength of free space, and is the propagation medium refractive index. The conforcal parameter, defined as the distance between the points at each side of the beam waist for which, is given by For optimum mode matching of the pump and laser beam, the confocal length of the pump beam must be longer than the absorption length of gain medium, as shown in Fig. 1. Of course, for a four-level laser, the pump-beam radius at the end of the gain medium should be smaller than the spot size of a laser-cavity mode, i.e.,. On the other hand, for the quasi-three-level laser, the waist size of the pump (1) (2) X/97$ IEEE
2 TAIRA et al.: DIODE-PUMPED TUNABLE Yb:YAG MINIATURE LASERS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE 101 Fig. 1. The model of an end-pumped quasi-three-level solid-state laser. For a four-level laser, the radius of the focused pump beam at the end of the active medium w p(l=2) has to be smaller than the laser spot size w`0. beam should be larger than a spot size of a laser-cavity mode , . As a result, the minimum focused beam radius is given by The effective pump intensity is given by where is the absorption efficiency and is the input pump power. Laser oscillation occurs when the effective pump intensity exceeds an absorbed threshold intensity, which is given by where is the pump photon energy, is the intrinsic cavity loss, is the transmittance of the output coupler, is the total Yb ion number, is the spectroscopic cross section for the laser transition, is the lifetime of the upper manifold, and and are the fractional population of the lower- and upper-laser levels, respectively. For highly efficient operation, a pumping intensity is required, which saturates the lower laser-level absorption. To achieve the condition, the pump intensity should be five times greater than the laser-threshold pump intensity . In general, the threshold pump intensity due to lower laser-level absorption is few times larger than that due to cavity loss. Consequently, we state the requirement as where is the local threshold intensity, which is given by substracting the cavity losses from (5) . Finally, the appropriate focusing spot size is given by (3), (4), and (6): This equation indicates the requirement for the pumping-beam and laser-material characteristics to obtain a good overlap between the pumped volume and TEM cavity mode in the active medium. As the pumping- and cavity-mode spot sizes decrease under a good mode overlap each other, it is evident that the reabsorption loss becomes saturated so that the slope efficiency is increased. From the right-hand side (RHS) of (7) with the factor of the pump beam and the material length, we have the minimum focus size. On the other hand, although a large focused beam realizes good mode matching, (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) Fig. 2. Effective pump (4) intensity as a function of absorbed power. The Yb:YAG absorption coefficient at 940-nm pump wavelength was taken as 23 cm 01. The OPC-C005-FC diode pump system used in our experiments are indicated by the black point. it is difficult to keep a highly pumping intensity to saturate the reabsorption loss. From the left-hand side (LHS) of (7), along with the local threshold and the absorbed pump power, we have an upper limit of the focus size. Consequently, the multifold pass-pumping configuration , the resonantly pumping one , and the relatively high doped-yb:yag active media are effective solutions to obtain the desired absorption efficiency. Fig. 2 shows the effective pump intensity obtained by substituting the pump radius given by (2) into (4). In this calculation, we assumed that the Yb:YAG crystal length is equal to the inverse active-medium absorption coefficient at the pump wavelength. To increase the effective pump intensity, we chose a 25 at.-% Yb -doping YAG crystal with its absorption coefficient of 23 cm at 940 nm. Added to this, the effective pump intensity depends on the factor and the maximum output power of pump source. For a high slope-efficiency operation in a quasi-three-level laser, a pump intensity of at least five times the local threshold intensity ( kw/cm ) must be obtained. This figure shows that times higher absorption power is required for effective pumping by using high-order transverse mode lasers compare with fundamental mode lasers. The fiber bundled diode laser (Opt Power Co., OPC-C005-FC) for which is 120 at a 5-W pump power is shown in Fig. 2. This diode laser available to us has an enough effective pump intensity. III. EXPERIMENT Fig. 3 shows the schematic of the diode-pumped tunable Yb:YAG miniature laser. The laser cavity consists of a Yb:YAG chip, a birefringent filter, and a 95% reflectivity output coupler placed 25 mm apart from the laser crystal. The mirror radius was 30 mm. The Yb:YAG crystals (Scientific Materials Co.), with dimensions of 4 4 mm and a thickness of 200 and 400 m were used. Yb:YAG crystals were assembled on sapphire substrates by the optical bond to facilitate handling and heat removal. The interface between the sapphire and the Yb:YAG crystal has high transmission ( 95%) at the pumping wavelength and high reflectivity
3 102 IEEE JOURNAL OF SELECTED TOPICS IN QUANTUM ELECTRONICS, VOL. 3, NO. 1, FEBRUARY 1997 Fig. 3. Schematic of the coupled-cavity Yb:YAG laser. For tuning and mode selection, 1 mm-thick birefringent filters were used. Fig. 4. Input output power characteristics for a 400-m Yb:YAG chip placed with a 50-mm radius of a curvature mirror and for a 200-m Yb:YAG chip with a 30-mm radius of curvature mirror configuration. The reflectivity of output mirrors was 95%. The Yb:YAG crystal was held at a holder temperature of 20 C. ( 99.9%) at the laser wavelength. The dielectric coating condition for the Yb:YAG crystal was decided by taking the refractive index of the bond into account. The opposite side has high reflectivity ( 90%) at the pump wavelength and a small percentage of reflectivity at the laser wavelength for the coupled cavity. The temperature of the laser holder was controlled by using a thermo-electric cooler set at 20 C. In this case, the free spectral ranges (FSR s) of the Yb:YAG microchip and cavity are 200 and 6 GHz, respectively. For a wide tuning experiment, a 1 mm-thick quartz plate was inserted in the laser cavity. The OPC-C005-FC fiber bundled diode-laser beam, collimated by a 12.5-mm focal length lens, was used to longitudinally pump the Yb:YAG crystals. Using lenses of a 2.6- and 3.0-mm focal length, the pump beam was focused at 68- and 78- m radius in the active media. The Yb:YAG output power as a function of absorbed pump power is shown in Fig. 4. Because the 933-nm pump wavelength of the diode laser is far from maximum absorption wavelength in crystal (which occurs at 940 nm) the absorption coefficient is limited to cm. Therefore, laser performances were evaluated by using the absorbed power in crystals. For the 400- m-thick Yb:YAG chip, the threshold was measured to be 480 mw and the slope efficiency was Fig. 5. Output power as a function of wavelength for the 400-m Yb:YAG chip using 1-mm-thick quartz birefringent filter. 63% relative to the absorbed power with a 78- m spot size. The output mirror had a radius of curvature of 50 mm and a cavity length of 7 mm. The maximum output power of 1.33 W was at 2.9 W of absorbed pump power with of 1.15 for multiaxial-mode oscillation. According to (7), for the 400- m Yb:YAG crystal, the proper focused-pump-beam radius is from 88.8 to 92.2 m. By changing the focused spot size to 99 m with a set of 10.0 and 3.0 mm focallength lenses, and the output coupler to a 100-mm radius of curvature mirror (95% refractivity), the maximum slope efficiency was increased to 70%. However, because the laserthreshold power was increased to 800 mw, the maximum output power was limited to 1.20 W. On the other hand, for the 200- m-thick Yb:YAG crystal with a 68- m radius of focused pump beam, the slope efficiency was increased to 70%. We note that this case satisfies the conditions of (7). In this experiment, a set of and 2.6-mm focal-length lenses were used for the pump-beam line and the laser resonator of 4-mm cavity length was equipped with a output mirror of 30-mm curvature mirror radius. The Yb:YAG laser has a wide gain width of nm. In addition, because it has a simple energy-level scheme, it is possible to oscillate at wavelengths that extend beyond the laser gain peak. To evaluate the tunability of the Yb:YAG laser in the previous 400- m Yb:YAG chip configurations, we
4 TAIRA et al.: DIODE-PUMPED TUNABLE Yb:YAG MINIATURE LASERS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE 103 of 1 W was obtained with the two axial modes operating in the same laser cavity, so that the 500-mW single-mode power limit is due to the spatial hole-burning effect. (a) IV. CONCLUSION A design approach for optimizing end pumping of three- and four-level lasers has been presented. Using this design method we have developed a simple and practical Yb:YAG miniature laser. A maximum slope efficiency of 70% was obtained in fundamental transverse-mode operation. By inserting a birefringent filter into the cavity, the Yb:YAG laser was tuned over 29 nm (8.2 THz) at room temperature. By replacing the calcite birefringent filter by the quartz filter, tunable singlefrequency operation has been realized. These performances are expected to be improved by a cooling of the Yb:YAG active medium. The possible applications of this kind of laser includes laser remote-sensing systems, light source for injection-locking pump source for nonlinear frequency conversion, and Pr fiber amplifier system. (b) Fig. 6. (a) Single-axial-mode output power as a function of absorbed power in the 400-m Yb:YAG chip using 1-mm-thick calcite birefringent filter. (b) Optical spectrum of single-axial-mode operation at 1.03 m measured by using a scanning Fabry Perot interferometer with a 10-GHz FSR. introduced a birefringent filter. Fig. 5 shows tuning curves of the Yb:YAG laser using a 1-mm-thick quartz birefringent filter whose effective FSR was 17 THz. At room temperature, tuning from 1023 to 1052 nm (29 nm, 8.2 THz) with two or three longitudinal modes was obtained. The mode spacing at 0.63 nm ( 180 GHz ) is in agreement with the Yb:YAG crystal-mode space. Although the output power at 1032 and 1050 nm was up to 1.19 and 0.87 W, with the absorbed power of 2.9 W, we recognized a tuning gap from 1041 to 1047 nm. The Yb:YAG laser gain at 1030 nm is higher compared with that corresponding to nm region, but at the same time, the reabsorption losses at 1030 nm are significant. However, became the reabsorption losses are saturated by the high value of the pumping, it was impossible to keep the laser oscillation at the 1040-nm region. The quartz birefringent filter was replaced by a 1-mm-thick calcite birefringent filter for single-axial-mode experiments. The effective FSR was reduced to 0.94 THz. Although the tuning range was limited to 7 nm around a 1030-nm region, single-frequency oscillation with 500-mW maximum output power was achieved, as shown in Fig. 6(a). The optical spectra were monitored with a scanning confocal interferometer with 60-MHz resolution and a 10-GHz FSR for m. Fig. 6(b) shows the longitudinal modes of the Yb:YAG laser with 500- mw output power at 1030 nm. The maximum output power ACKNOWLEDGMENT The authors wish to thank N. Pavel of Fukui University for an enlightening discussion and also appreciate the skilled technical assistance by T. Motegi of Oyokoden Laboratory Company. REFERENCES  T. Y. Fan and R. L. Byer, Modeling and CW operation of a quasithree-level 946-nm Nd:YAG laser, IEEE J. Quantum Electron., vol. QE-23, pp , May , Diode laser-pumped solid-state lasers, IEEE J. Quantum Electron., vol. 24, pp , June  T. Y. Fan and A. Sanchez, Pump source requirements for end-pumped lasers, IEEE J. Quantum Electron., vol. 26, pp , Feb  T. Y. Fan, Efficient coupling of multiple diode laser arrays to an optical fiber by geometric multiplexing, Appl. Opt., vol. 30, pp , Feb  P. Lacovara, H. K. Choi, C. A. Wang, R. L. Aggarwal, and T. Y. Fan, Room-temperature diode-pumped Yb:YAG laser, Opt. Lett., vol. 16, pp , July  T. Y. Fan and J. Ochoa, Tunable single-frequency Yb:YAG laser with 1-W output power using twisted-mode technique, IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett., vol. 7, pp , Oct  A. Giesen, H. Hugel, A. Voss, K. Wittig, U. Brauch, and H. Opower, Scalable concept for diode-pumped high-power solid-state lasers, Appl. Phys., vol. B58, pp , May  U. Brauch, A. Giesen, M. Karszewski, C. Stewen, and A. Voss, Multiwatt diode-pumped Yb:YAG thin disk laser continuously tunable between 1018 and 1053 nm, Opt. Lett., vol. 20, pp , Apr  C. Honninger, G. Zhang, U. Keller, and A. Giesen, Femtosecond Yb:YAG laser using semiconductor saturable absorbers, Opt. Lett., vol. 20, pp , Dec  A. Giesen, U. Brauch, I. Johannsen, M. Karszewski, C. Stewen, and A. Voss, High-power near diffraction-limited and single-frequency operation of Yb:YAG thin disc laser, in OSA TOPS Advanced Solid- State Lasers, S. A. Payne and C. Pollock, Eds. vol. 1, pp ,  H. Bruesselbach and D. Sumida, 69-W-average-power Yb:YAG laser, Opt. Lett., vol. 21, pp , Apr  T. Taira, T. Suzudo, and T. Kobayashi, Design method of efficient, diode end-pumped solid-state lasers using M 2 factor, Rev. Laser Eng., vol. 24, pp , May 1996, in Japanese.  T. Taira, W. M. Tulloch, R. L. Byer, and T. Kobayashi, Single-axialmode operation of resonantly pumped Yb:YAG microchip lasers, Trans.
5 104 IEEE JOURNAL OF SELECTED TOPICS IN QUANTUM ELECTRONICS, VOL. 3, NO. 1, FEBRUARY 1997 Inst. Electron., Inform., Commun. Engin. C-I, vol. 79-C-I, pp , Mar. 1996, in Japanese. , Single-axial-mode oscillation of a coupled cavity Yb:YAG laser, OSA TOPS Advanced Solid-State Lasers, vol. 1, pp ,  A. E. Siegman, New developments in laser resonators, in SPIE Proc. Opt. Resonators, vol. 1224,  M. W. Sasnett, Propagation of multimode laser beams-the M 2 factor, in The Physics and Technology of Laser Resonators, D. R. Hall and P. E. Jackson, Eds. U.K.: IOP Publishing, 1992, chap. 9, pp  R. J. Beach, Theory and optimization of lens ducts, Appl. Opt., vol. 35, pp , Apr  W. P. Risk, Modeling of longitudinally pumped solid-state lasers exhibiting reabsorption losses, J. Opt. Soc. Amer. B, Opt. Phys., vol. B5, pp , July Takao Kobayashi (M 83) received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical communication engineering from Tohoku University, Japan, in 1964, 1966, and 1974, respectively. In 1967, he became a Research Associate at Tohoku University. From 1979 to 1980, he was a Guest Researcher at Yale University, New Haven, CT. In 1981, he became both an Associate Professor at Tohoku University and a Professor at Fukui University, Japan. He is presently in charge of the Optoelectronics Department at Fukui University. He has been involved in the research of various lasers, nonlinear wavelength conversion, laser radar, optical communication, and environmental electronics. Dr. Kobayashi is a member of the Japanese Institute of Electronics, Information, and Communication Engineering Society, the Applied Physics Society, the Japanese Physical Society, the Spectroscopy Society, the Electrical and Electronics Society, and the Laser Society. Takunori Taira (M 93) was born in Fukui, Japan, in He received the B.E. and M.E. degrees in electrical engineering from Fukui University, Japan, in 1983 and 1985, respectively. He recevied the Ph.D. degree in electrical communication engineering from Tohoku University, Japan, in In 1985, he joined the LSI Research and Development Laboratory of Mitsubishi Electric Co., where he was involved in the research of 32-b microprocessors and cash memory. He is currently a Research Associate of electrical and electronics engineering at Fukui University and is involved in the research of diodepumped solid-state lasers, and nonlinear frequency conversion and their applications. He was a Guest Researcher at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, from 1993 to 1994, where he was involved in the research of diodepumped Yb:YAG lasers. Dr. Taira is a member of the Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineering of Japan, the Japan Society of Applied Physics, the Laser Society of Japan, the Optical Society of America, and SPIE. Jiro Saikawa was born in Fukui, Japan, in He received the B.E. degree in electrical engineering from Fukui University, Japan, in He continues to work at Fukui University towards the completion of the M.E. degree, where he is involved in the research of diode-pumped solid-state lasers. Robert L. Byer (M 75 SM 83 F 87) received the B.S. degree in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1964, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in applied physics from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, in 1967 and 1969, respectively From 1981 to 1984, he was Chair of the Applied Physics Department, Stanford University. From 1985 to 1987, he was Associated Dean of Humanities and Sciences and served as Vice Provost and Dean of Research at Stanford from 1987 through He is currently the Director of the Center for Nonlinear Optical Materials and Professor of applied physics at Stanford. His early work led to the first observation of optical parametric fluorescence and the first demonstration of CW optical parametric oscillation in Li Nb O 3.He has published over 250 scientific papers and holds 35 patents in the fields of lasers and nonlinear optics. Since 1984, his research interests have centered on diode-pumped solid-state lasers. His recent research includes the investigation of high-power, highly coherent diode-pumped miniature slab Nd:YAG lasers for gravitational wave interferometry. Prof. Byer is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, a Fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1985, he was President of the IEEE Lasers and Electro-optics Society. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in In 1994, he served as the President of the Optical Society of America. He is a Founding Member of the California Council on Science and Technology, and has served on the Engineering Advisory Board of the National Science Foundation.